With four weeks left for local elections to 23 councils and the focus mainly on Colombo, the public are calling for urgent attention to some of their outstanding issues.
Despite development programmes within the Colombo city aimed at its beautification, the ratepayers of Colombo North and Central are facing difficulties for their basic common amenities, environmental pollution and other issues. Householders are hopeful that the prospective councillors would be able to resolve their problems.
A visit by the Sunday Times to some of these areas of low income dwellers of Colombo North and Central, showed the disparity of the development within the city.
Although reconstruction is in progress at the Maligawatte Flats situated at Maligawatte, there are various shortcomings and inadequacies affecting the common amenities of the complex.
Drains blocked with garbage and illegal construction over drainage lines cause floods during heavy downpours, with filthy rainwater from overflowing drains flowing into ground floor flats. Residents claim that the water level rise above the knee.
|These pictures taken by our photographer Mangala Weerasekera show that much needs to be done in the areas of Colombo North and Central
Roadways within the housing scheme are damaged by private passenger buses parking there. The ensuing ruts form puddles when it rains.
A. Shermila, a resident of the Maligawatte housing scheme said that to prevent the filthy flood from flowing into her house during heavy rains, she had built a three-foot parapet in front of her flat as a barrier.
Most of the other ground floor residents have followed Shermila’s example by building similar parapet barriers to secure their premises from the filthy flood water.
However the President- Maligawatte Flats Women’s Society, Janitha said the Ministry of Housing has allocated 3,320 lakhs to repair and renovate the housing scheme and that work is progressing.
The next location was Blomendhal Road, starting from Armour Street up to Madampitiya in the North of Colombo, where The Sunday Times learns that Blomendhal Road has been under reconstruction for the last two years, and is yet to be completed.
Both sides of Blomendhal Road have been dug up and the ensuing rubble piled up on either side.
A motor mechanic at Blomendhal Road said that the road construction is on contract to the CMC.
“The contractors come to work every morning, and leave by 2 pm. They have been dragging their feet for the past one month,” he added.
The low income dwellers along Railway Avenue down Blomendhal Road, where they have been living for ages, are agitating over their relocation from their present residences.
The Sunday times learns that around 405 houses are situated down Railway Avenue, from which 19 houses are to be relocated by court order.
Residents claim that the Railway authority has claimed ownership of the area, as the railway track in the area is used to transport goods to the harbour.
Residents of Madampitiya Road in the Kimbula Ela area are facing difficulties caused by pollution.
The Kimbula Ela drains are filled with dirt and garbage, resulting in a bad smell in the area. The drains in this area are also blocked with dirt and garbage.
Indrani Dassanayake, a resident in Kimbula Ela said, “We have written to the municipality many times but no solution has been found. The CMC workers come to collect the garbage but they don’t do it properly” she added. Noorjahan, another resident in the Kimbula Ela area complained that politicians come for their votes during election campaigns, but don’t make any attempt to help residents overcome their problems.
“There is no point in keeping our houses clean, the bad smell of faeces will pollute the air. People will get lung diseases from air pollution,” she said.
The garbage collecting centre near Aluthmawatha at Elie House Park was full of small carts, with little or no garbage around the area, unlike in the other places.
Residents in these areas say that garbage collection by the CMC is irregular, while their other issues have yet to be solved.